I closed the first post by saying that the story was good but the gameplay was disappointing — the more I play the more it solidifies my opinion there. I would even go further than “disappointing” and say the system/battles are bad.
One big mistake I made was carrying over the data from Arc the Lad 1. From what I can tell, it only does two things. First, if you did the lengthy optional quest to get Choko in part 1, you’ll be able to do another lengthy optional quest in 2. Second, it carries over the levels of your party members. This is a bad thing unless you did a lot of the extra stuff in the first game and levelled up your members a lot.
By far the worst part of the game’s mechanics are the block/dodge effects. The chance for an enemy to block or dodge your attack is based directly on the difference in levels between the attacker and the defender. It is not affected by any stats, or whether the attack was from behind or the side. This aspect of the system has a huge effect on the game and is one of the worst single decisions I’ve seen in an SRPG. It means that it’s quite difficult to use a lower leveled character, because the chance of their attack not working is high and the counterattack will do a lot of damage. (This also means that characters who can attack from a space away are much more useful, if underlevelled.)
Even if you do have a good party that is levelling up, there are many parts of the game where the enemies suddenly take a 20 or so level jump, meaning that even your good characters will have problems with missing and blocking. Now, it’s not that this makes the game exceptionally difficult (at least up to the point I’ve reached), it’s more that it makes it annoying and tedious, and encourages the use of a few powerful characters rather than making full use of your team.
The first place this really affected me was the White House area that I was in the middle of when I made the last post. I think the intention is for this place to be cool because all the characters return from AtL1 and team up with various people from the new party. But if all your AtL1 characters are low leveled, it makes the battles quite frustrating. From what I understand, if you do not carry over data the AtL1 characters start at pretty high levels.
Another problem is the limit on inventory space. It may seem like the 96 spaces are a lot, but there are a ton of different types of items in the game, and many different kinds of weapons and armor. Some you want to save because they can be used in the Combine Shop to make new ones. But I was constantly running into the item limit.
Anyway, let’s get back to the game flow. After a long series of events that I mentioned above, where you use all the different characters in groups of 2-3, everyone meets up at the Chimera Research Lab to take down the first of the four enemy generals, Gallarno.
He is a rather strange enemy because you have to cut away these skin areas before you can actually get to him. I used Gogen to blast everyone with large scale spells. Arc is very useful because he has a statue that restores some of his MP each turn — if this did come from the carryover then that’s one good reason to do it. Arc has Total Healing (which heals status effects and HP), and Weak Enemy, two very useful spells that the MP regen makes it much easier to use. I included him in my party from here on out whenever I was allowed to. Poco’s purpose is to heal and increase attack. Tosh attacks. I think Lieze is required.
After Gallarno is defeated, we have a brief set of scenes involving Iga (the martial arts guy from the first game), and then you can use the Silver Noah to go anywhere in the world. This opens up a lot of new content — you can do a ton of the guild jobs and wanted monsters. You can start exploring the Sealed Ruins which have power units for a robot character (another inventory issue, though). You can even do the Ancient Ruins, as well as go to Mother Claire’s place to work with your monsters.
I did a lot of the guild jobs before moving on, and got Raijin and Fujin. These characters are extremely useful; their spells do huge damage and they have a combo attack. For the rest of the game, I always included one of the two (whichever one was lower level) in any party I was allowed to.
Now it’s off to Brakia, where there’s a long mining dungeon with various trolleys you take through the place. At least here you can use a 5 person party and choose freely.
After that, Gia Temple. The main goal now seems to be to destroy the various brainwashing devices that Anderl is using around the world. This one is guarded by just a random mook who isn’t very strong. Then it’s off to Millmana island, where the Oil Rig we have to go to is guarded by a train with an antiaircraft gun. So take that down first.
The train requires you to split into two groups; putting Fujin in one and Raijin in the other helps a lot. After that it’s the Deep Sea Oli Rig. I found this dungeon annoying; the maps are very small, so you get stuck a lot. The enemies are way above me in levels so they’re always faster and can move first, which means they get a lot of free attacks.
At the end of this section we finally take out Yagun (who was in the first game) — it turns out he was actually the monkey, not the guy sitting there. Next up is a pyramid, where another brainwashing machine awaits. First we have to get a tribesman to open up the pyramid; he wants to ally with the enemies to save his mom, but of course they already killed his mom a long time ago (there’s quite a bit of grisly stuff in this game).
The pyramid itself is short and easy because you can avoid most battles by answering Sphinx questions correctly.
Then it’s off to the “God Tower”, where ancient machines await to attack us. These bumbling comic relief characters follow us and mess things up, but then help us at the end against the boss.
So that’s where I am at this point; it seems like I’m at about the 80% point so I should have the game beaten in the next few days.